Hopkins is a beach town in Southern Belize (population 1500) that has really held on to its roots as a Garifuna Village. Well maybe that’s the wrong way to say it…it hasn’t held onto anything. It is a tiny Garifuna Village. A friendly place on a long strip of beach that will have you thinking about buying a shack on the Caribbean sea, quitting your job and relocating.
Unlike some other larger, more touristy areas in Belize, there has been little development in the village center – and it is full of rustic charm. Think the smell creole bread baking over an open fire or roosters and school kids walking by you on the unpaved street.
Or fishing dories pulled up along the beach.
That being said…on both the Northern and Southern edges of the village – there are hotels with as many or as few luxuries as you desire. And for such a small village, they have some AMAZING restaurants.
This year they are going BIGGER AND BETTER on their Mango Festival. One day only. Saturday, May 30th but there are lots of reasons you should come for a few days…or more. Let me see if I can convince you to join me in Hopkins this year for Mango Festival.
Reasons to Head to Hopkins, Belize ASIDE from the Mango-Fest.
1. The Garifuna Culture – the food, the music, the language (you actually hear it spoken frequently in Hopkins)…Hopkins is perhaps the best place to experience this mix of African, Caribbean Indian and Belizean cultures. For lots more information on the Garifuna and their history, check out this article.
The popular Tuesday nights at Driftwood Beach Bar & Pizza Shack feature a drumming circle and performance…
…or TAKE LESSONs at the local drum school. Super fun. And the pizza is DELICIOUS. Try the Meditteranean with artichokes and olives and feta. Yum.
And if you are like me…this lesson will further prove how little rhythm you have.
These restaurants are some of the best in the country. And then there is the real Garifuna cooking and baking. Hudut and bundiga and fresh coconut milk…
3. The Incredible Bioluminescence Tour – Just a short boat ride away is one of the most surprising trips I’ve been on in Belize – a glowing lagoon. I visited last year and wrote all about it because you can’t take pictures! It’s too dark.
4. Proximity to some other AMAZING sights and tours. Bocawina – a gorgeous property and the longest zip line in Central America. Amazing birding on the savannah between the mountains and the beach. It’s the only place that I’ve seen a jabiru stork in the wild.
I’m guessing the bounty of mangoes brings in about 16 billion birds as well.
The Marie Sharp’s Factory is only about 20 minutes from Hopkins, where they offer tours and samples of all the products they produce.
There is a ton more…the Cockscomb Jaguar Reserve, tons and tons of hiking, waterfall rapeling, snorkeling, water sports….
5. The star of the show – THE MANGO! Trees bursting with what might possibly be the world’s most delicious fruit. If every resident of the village ate 10 a day, I’m sure there would still be 1000s left for the birds.
I was there last April and the trees were full but SO SADLY not yet ripe.
There are some of the reasons to visit Hopkins in the spring but here is what is happening on May 30 for MangoFest 2015! The details.
The festival is in the town center from 10am to 6pm and features THE GARIFUNA COLLECTIVE. They are so incredibly talented and they…make me cry. I’m not kidding.
Here is a brief video that I took of them in San Pedro a few years ago singing their most famous song “Watina”.
There will be raffles every 30 minutes during the day with the Grand Prize of a 3 Night stay in Hopkins, including accommodations, dinners and activities (Night Lagoon Trip, Snorkel Trip, & Zip Line and Water Rappelling.)
Children and Adult Games
Food and Exhibits Galore
For lots more pictures, information and how to get there – to Hopkins that is – check out the posts below. AND the Official MangoFest Facebook page….the website has not been updated yet.
And again, I hope to see you there! Please let me know, subtly, if I have mango on my face.